This is the first ever guest post on my blog! Lately, some people in my close circle have been writing posts that touch me on a really deep level, and I want you to see them, too. It’s that feeling of OMG! Did this piece ever nail it on the head! It’s like a good book. You just want to tell your friends.
This post is from my dear friend Marti Wolfson, MS, who has appeared on my blog several times — most recently in Foods to take when you travel (when she was starving on an airplane at 26 weeks pregnant) and last fall in Soup Session with the extraordinary Marti Wolfson, when we had SUCH a good time chopping and cooking up Spicy Thai Carrot, Corn & Tomato Bisque soup (the video is great!).
A culinary nutritionist who developed the CALM™ (Culinary and Lifestyle Medicine) approach to health and healing, Marti is brilliant, graceful, and wise beyond her years. And she’s about to become a mother! (Everyone send good energy.) She calls me FGA (Fairy God Aunt). We’ve known each other for 13 years, and have cultivated a lovely relationship even though we live 3,000 miles apart. I am so grateful for Marti!
This is an extra cozy, late summer meal that I made last week when we were trying to figure out exactly what to do as the hurricane was approaching. It’s great for weekdays and tastes amazing, even in times of total uncertainty :)
The chickpea (Cicer arietinum) is a legume. The seeds of this ancient plant — the chickpea — are high in protein. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes — 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.
Other common names for the species include garbanzo bean, ceci bean, sanagalu, chana, hummus and Bengal gram.
This slightly-tart, slightly-sweet dip is perfect for a party. It can also be used as a stuffing for quesadillas or as a pesto-type sauce.
Lentils are the underdogs of the pulse, bean and legume food group, the unsung heroes, worthy of more attention and respect. If you’re not integrating lentils into your food world, I have some tips for you. A few easy tweaks in their preparation makes their texture terrific instead of blah (a game changer!) and their flavor zooms up on the dial with a few well-chosen ingredients.
Lentils have been part of the human diet since Neolithic times. Archeological evidence shows they were eaten 9,500 to 13,000 years ago, and that they were one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East.
Healthwise, they are a good source of protein, folic acid, dietary fiber, and many trace minerals. In researching The Healthy Mind Cookbook, I learned they are exceptionally good brain food full of brain-friendly B vitamins with folate that helps keep our minds healthy and sharp as we age. Lentils support cognitive functioning (iron), focus (folate) and memory (zinc). Yay, lentils!
One of my favorite workshop food demos is a lentil salad recipe. It’s usually easy to find someone who isn’t wild about lentils, because they think they are bor-ing, or worse, mushy :( Ugh. I delight in DAZZLING them with lentils cooked the right way and tossed with bright ingredients, to make for a magically nourishing and utterly delicious mouthful! (Picture the spoon going into their somewhat reluctantly open mouth...the pause… then the involuntary spasm of vocal delight… yummmm!) I invariably gain countless converts to the humble lentil.
This sauce is the epitome of late summer. Before we head into fall—the season of apples and pumpkins—grab onto those last few tastes of summer with this fresh and vibrant sauce. It’s best made with summer heirloom tomatoes (the more colorful the better!); however, you can also use “regular” tomatoes.
For years, I’ve had the same smoothie formula that consisted of frozen banana, frozen berries, as well as any greens and super-powders I had on hand. This past year though, I decided to start packing more stuff into my smoothies, specifically more veggies. If you have a blender, especially a high-speed one like a Vitamix, it’s so easy to ‘hide’ all kinds of things in your smoothies. I’ve been favoring steamed and frozen cauliflower, sweet potato, and zucchini in place of frozen banana. I’ve also been adding things like raw beets, red cabbage, and even mung bean sprouts into the blender. At first, eating a barely sweet smoothie was strange, but now I can honestly say that I’ve grown to appreciate and love having a less sugary breakfast. I realized that it’s more important to me to have a smoothie, any smoothie than to have a sweet, dessert-like one in the morning.
I remember Labor Day weekend as the last swim before the community pool closed. Getting ready for school, buying school supplies. New school shoes and clothes. The Labor Day barbeque. The last breath of summer, before you had to get back down to business.
Even now as an adult, I can feel things are calmer and quieter in August, during the dead of summer, when people are taking a vacation or staycation. Labor Day is high tide, then it’s back to full throttle, nose to the grindstone, and It doesn’t matter if it’s still 102 degrees. We’re back on!
Culinary-wise, it’s the last of the picnic trio (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day). Our traditions aren’t as elaborate on Labor Day as for the others, but it’s fun to savor and celebrate the swan song of the season, especially a season with such a glorious harvest of fruits and vegetables.
Let us take a moment to savor the sumptuousness of the summer harvest! And to select a few glorious things to do with it. My dear friend and neighbor Julie Burford and I already have our tried and true traditions and are happy to share. We’ve got you covered. (You may remember Julie from The soul of soup: cooking with my Soup Sister.)
I often buy those nets of not-yet-ripe, organic avocados to have them ripen later in the week. What ends up happening more often than not is that they all get ripe at the same time, and I can’t use them up fast enough. My solution is to mash up the avocados with some lime juice, then freeze the mash in ice cube trays to use in smoothies, quick avocado pudding and this soft serve, which we are completely obsessed with.
Are you riding the Transition Train? If so, welcome aboard! It seems as though nearly everyone I know is moving, ending a relationship, leaving a job, or embarking on a new venture. Change can be scary, overwhelming, frustrating, exhausting, and even paralyzing. But, it can also be exciting, reinvigorating, and inspiring.
My friends, cucumbers have changed! When I was growing up, cucumbers were fat and stubby with waxy skins and big, blah seeds. They were relegated to three uses: a garnish on the plate, sliced in a salad, or finely sliced in little tea sandwiches with butter on white bread. Honestly not a major player, nothing spectacular. The texture was unexciting, the seeds were annoying, the skin was bitter. Meh.
Traveling this summer? When it comes to food, I suggest you be prepared!
My dear friend and her husband came to visit us in California last month. She was 26 weeks pregnant and traveling from the east coast, a LONG travel day. She had planned ahead and ordered a special meal for the plane… which turned out to be disgusting, virtually inedible. Oh, dear! She asked the flight attendant if she could rustle her up a cheese plate. To which the attendant flatly said, no. We don’t have any extras. My friend said, I’m a pregnant woman! Get me a cheese plate!!! You do not want to mess with a hungry pregnant woman!!!! Startled, the flight attendant rummaged through the food cabinet, and wouldn’t you know, she found one.
Here comes Part 2 of our Plant-Based Summer meal plan, which we created in hopes of helping some of you get more plants into your life on a day-to-day basis. We aimed for efficiency, but also tried to come up with recipes that are inspired and delicious. Part 2 focuses on dinner and dessert only. There are tacos and fajitas, as well as a juicy fruit crisp. To see the breakfast and lunch recipes, as well as the grocery shopping list for the entire meal plan, head to Part 1.
If you use this meal plan, we would appreciate your feedback a whole lot. Tell us which parts were useful and where we could improve. These meal plans are a ton of fun to come up with, but they are also a ton of work, so we want to make sure that we are putting our energy into something that’s practical to you. Providing that everything goes well, we’ll come out with the next meal plan in the fall. Until then, we are back to our regular schedule of two recipe posts a week :)
(see Part 1 for breakfast and lunch recipes)
Paloma is a pretty good eater as far as kids her age go. She eats most leafy salads, loves to munch on raw carrots and apples, and could easily devour a certain teff polenta of mine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When it comes to things like broccoli and green beans (and mushrooms!) though, she is your typical, picky eight year old. If anything of the sort makes it onto her plate, she begins the meal with diplomatic negotiations about how she will eat this, but not that, and what sort of dessert she will be getting as a reward. We do have a rule that she has to try everything before refusing it, which is what got her with this pasta.
In this recipe, the noodles are cooked in a creamy mixture of coconut milk and veggie broth, and jazzed up with some garlic and miso, while the caramelized, roasted vegetables get mixed in and slathered in all that creamy goodness as well. This preparation makes the otherwise tame green veggies into something irresistible, as proven by my kid’s enthusiasm. It’s also just a really great, easily customizable weeknight recipe. The roasted green beans and broccoli can be replaced by any other roasted vegetables, and you can play around with the addition of other types of greens, herbs and spices. I hope you’ll give this one a try :)
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